On January 31, ten missionaries from Central Baptist Church in Meridian, Idaho and East Side Baptist Church in Twin Falls, Idaho were arrested at the Haiti-Dominican Republic border for attempting to smuggle 33 Haitian children out of the country. Both churches are members of the Southern Baptist Convention, which runs relief programs around the world and is the largest Protestant denomination in the United States.
The missionaries’ spokeswoman said they were “just trying to do the right thing.”
Some say his actions can be understood in light of the tragic situation in Haiti. Even before the earthquake, approximately 15 percent of children were orphaned or abandoned, many living in institutions or on the streets. It was a country whose poverty would shock most Americans. The earthquake, which some are calling the most catastrophic event in generations, made an already regrettable situation worse. More Haitians than ever are living in misery and more children than ever are left homeless or orphaned. It’s hard to imagine how a child could grow up in bleaker circumstances, with a bleaker future.
It takes a lot of tact and sensitivity to negotiate the racial, linguistic, religious, and cultural divide that exists between foreign missionaries and Haitians. The Idaho missionaries failed.
Unfortunately, this incident casts a shadow over other Christian missionaries in Haiti. There are many Christian groups there with a long history of cohesive work with the Haitian people. Let’s take a brief look at five of them.
Haitian Christian Outreach
Haitian Christian Outreach (HCO), of Mahomet, Illinois, has uplifted the spiritual lives of Haitians since 1989. Their first and foremost task has been to build several Emmanuel Churches. But he has also prioritized health care, setting up mobile medical clinics that travel the country to provide free medical and dental care to Haitians who cannot afford a doctor or dentist. It also runs fixed medical and dental clinics.
HCO Children’s Ministry partners with Haitian Christians to spread the Gospel. HCO partners with Emmanuel Christian School staff to provide quality K-9 education, Bible training, and fitness nutrition. Haitian Christian Outreach Children’s Fund provides food, education, uniforms, and medical care to more than 1,200 students in three schools.
HCO has been at the forefront of efforts to help the Haitian people recover from the massive earthquake on January 12. It has responded to people’s fear of sleeping inside buildings, due to continuous aftershocks, by providing tarps, tents and mosquito nets to make sleeping outside comfortable.
It has provided food to more than 500 families, distributed drinking water, and brought in shipping containers and pre-packaged meals.
Haiti Northwest Christian Mission
The Northwest Haiti Christian Mission (NWHCM), of Versailles, Kentucky, has served the Haitian people for 30 years. He focuses his efforts on northwest Haiti, where poverty is worst in the poverty-stricken nation. NWHCM’s history of service to northwestern Haitians is extensive. He has worked with indigenous Haitian Christian churches to lift people out of spiritual, physical, and social poverty.
NWHCM benefits thousands of people “regardless of age, gender, religion” through various programs: elementary schools, feeding projects, orphanages, medical clinics, church planting, a Bible Institute, and agricultural development. It is the largest employer in northwest Haiti and one of the largest ministries in the country.
In the first days after the earthquake, he provided mobile medical assistance. Since then, she has worked with the government of Saint Louis du Nord to provide food, physical therapy and rehabilitation, and orthopedic surgery, including hand surgery for the many in need.
Haitian Christian Mission
Haitian Christian Mission (HCM), of Indianapolis, Indiana, has served Haiti for 34 years. It exists “to save souls for the Kingdom of Christ.” Its educational, health care and nutrition centers advance its mission and give children a future.
HCM has established schools to teach reading, writing, arithmetic and basic French. Their goal is to build a school that accompanies each of their churches.
Haiti is a medically deprived nation, with only one doctor for every 4,000 people. Striving to turn the tide, HCM recently began collaborating with Project Haiti Heart to establish an OB/GYN alongside their two hospitals in Fonds Parisiens, providing 80,000 people with access to quality healthcare.
HCM nutrition centers serve approximately 7,480 meals to children every day, with a focus on those suffering from second and third degree malnutrition.
HCM also has a sponsorship program, in which individuals and groups across the United States donate $30 a month to provide food and education to Haitian children most in need.
The ministry brought in a volunteer medical team after the earthquake. The team and staff of the Fonds Parisiens hospitals have treated hundreds of victims: people with broken arms and legs, back and head injuries…
Missions of Love (MOL), based in Hartford, Kentucky, began as a medical mission nearly 30 years ago in Jolivert. Innovation has been one of its characteristics. One example is their Mamba mix (made from powdered milk, sugar, oil, and vitamins mixed with peanut butter). Mamba treats moderately and severely malnourished children between the ages of one and five.
Over the years, MOL has taken on many other programs, some in collaboration with other organizations. The Adult Literacy Program helps adult Haitians learn to read and write. The Eye and Ear Clinic provides free or low-cost eye exams and glasses to the poor in Haiti. The clinic also diagnoses and treats ear diseases.
MOL works with the non-profit organization Feed My Starving Children to provide food for children in need and nourishment for their souls. And he works with an Ohio family to provide medical supplies including dressings, syringes, rubber gloves and surgical instruments for clinics and hospitals.
MOL’s outreach clinics enable children in remote villages and mountainous areas to receive medical treatment…children who would otherwise not receive the critical service.
The organization’s Planting New Churches program feeds children nutritious meals daily. Its Safe Drinking Water program reduces typhoid fever, dysentery and parasitism.
MOL’s Micro Finance program helps women in Haiti repay their loans and expand their businesses.
The Tents-4-Haiti program has been especially helpful after the earthquake. It has made it possible for a population that is homeless or reluctant to sleep indoors (because of the continuous threat of aftershocks) to sleep comfortably outdoors. MOL has provided other earthquake relief, including medical equipment, food and water purification.
Christian Mission Haiti
Haiti Christian Mission, of Waco, Kentucky, provides discipleship training and enhances economic and educational opportunities for the community of Galette and surrounding areas.
The mission began in 1983 to support Ed and Pam Hardy of Irvine, Kentucky, who spent 2 years helping build the church and other buildings for the Christianville Mission in Haiti. In 1984 they began supporting Choubert Remy to secure an education and return to Haiti in Christian service. HCMC missionaries provide food, clothing, dental and medical care.
Russell Christian School has been HCM’s main contribution to Haitian society. Choubert and his wife Bernadette established the school in 1995. In that time it has grown from 30 K-6 students to 250. These students would go without an education if it weren’t for this school. They learn reading, writing, arithmetic, and basic science, as well as learning Christian principles and the Gospel.
HCM has played an important role in disaster relief since the earthquake, providing food, water, and medical supplies to Galette and surrounding communities.
These five Christian missions have served Haiti for decades. They are staffed mostly by native Haitians and the Americans serving have taken the time and attention to learn the culture and ethnic nuances of the people. These missions do not deserve to be lumped in with the Idaho missionaries. These missions deserve your prayers and support so they can continue the good work they do.